Covid cancellation: After 20 years, there'll be no mass wedding on Robben Island this Valentine's Day

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Couple who tied the knot at Robben Island on Valentine's Day of 2020. Photographed by Gabi Zietsman
Couple who tied the knot at Robben Island on Valentine's Day of 2020. Photographed by Gabi Zietsman

This year would have marked 21 years of celebrating love on the Island and, as is the case every year, couples would have gathered to get married in a mass ceremony.

However, following the recent announcement by the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, on the temporary suspension of applications for IDs, passports and marriage services due to the increasing numbers of Department of Home Affairs staff testing positive for Covid-19, the annual Robben Island Valentine’s Day weddings are cancelled for 2021, says Robben Island Museum in a statement.

READ MORE | WATCH: 19 couples tie the knot in mass Robben Island wedding, and first braille marriage certificate issued

Last year, 19 couples tied the knot with a historic milestone of Mr Frankford Williams and Cindi Mullins, who are visually impaired, officially being the first couple in South Africa to receive their marriage certificate in braille.

W24 attended the mass weddings and spoke to some of the delighted couples. 

Afsana Khan and Peter Hedley-Smith are among the couples who tied the knot. They had met at another mass wedding and we happy to come full circle. At the time the bride shared that she was surprised when the groom popped the question.

“I thought he was joking [when he proposed], and it took me a while, maybe a few months, to realise it was real and here we are. We finally did it. We wanted to get married at Home Affairs, we don’t like weddings at all," said the new bride.

READ MORE | Paris Hilton is planning an intimate wedding due to the pandemic

To date, 327 couples have tied the knot on Robben Island as a partnership between Robben Island Museum (RIM) and DHA.

"The weddings were first initiated by the late Ms Martha Mgxashe, former Regional Director at DHA, with the first marriage ceremony held on 31 December 2000 as part of the Millennium Celebrations. In 2001, the ceremony was moved to Valentine’s Day to promote the significance of Robben Island with the establishment of our democracy," says the statement.

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